Stuff has a great article about a Naturopath who has been involved in treating the cancer of two patients who have died recently. The patients have both spoken out about how they think they made a mistake in trusting the naturopath.

Sadly the naturopath was giving advice about how well the women were responding to the alternative treatments she was selling them for their cancer:

"At this stage there is nothing to worry about"

"you can just apply zambuck ointment to that to draw out the last anger and pus"

The naturopath was using thermograms to check the progress of the cancer - and these are well known as a bogus diagnostic technique. Cancer Society of New Zealand medical director Dr Chris Jackson said thermography is "hocus pocus".

The naturopath's response to Stuff was "It's not my place to refer them to a specialist, I can't do that because I'm a naturopath", which seems like nonsense to me. There's no law that stops naturopaths from telling people that they are horribly unqualified to advise people with cancer and that they should see an oncologist.

Although Stuff didn't name the naturopath, it only takes a quick google of the qualification she is said to have earned from South Africa - an MDipNat.Herb - to find "Dr" Monica Maritz

Dr Maritz is not a doctor/GP, and the 25 minute talk on YouTube shows that she has no clue about biology or health either. She throws out "facts" that are flat out wrong, along with her own pet theories about how eating McDonald's surrounds your cells in a layer like cling film.

Thankfully, at the end of the article it says she's closing her holistic health practice in September:

"I've just had it. At the end of the day it's a thankless job, I've given my life to people to try and help them, I've had enough"

This makes Monica sound like a martyr - that she selflessly helped people. In reality, the opposite is true - it was not a selfless act, and she didn't help people. Monica charged people lots of money for her advice and remedies, but all of that was misguided at best. Rather than helping her patients, she is likely to have aided in a worsening of their health - giving them products that don't work to treat their cancer, and preventing them from going to medical professionals who would have been able to help.

In similar recent news, an Australian naturopath admitted she endangered a client's baby's life by telling the client, who was breastfeeding, to ignore medical advice and stick to a raw food diet to treat the kid's eczema. The reasoning given was that it would "alkaline" her milk and "eliminate the toxins". When the baby contracted a fever, the naturopath told the mother to move to a water only diet.

And a young New Zealand woman who has had cancer since she was 14 is going to spend $20,000 on an alternative treatment for her cancer that I am pretty damn sure is not going to work.

As the article suggests, maybe it's time that we started regulating naturopaths and other natural health practitioners - not through the HPCA (Healthcare Practitioners Competence Assurance) Act, as this would lend an unearned legitimacy to quacks (and already does so for chiropractors), by assuming that they are caring for people's health. Maybe we need a new piece of legislation dedicated to protecting the unwary public from predatory charlatans.